TV ADVERTISERS MUST STOP IGNORING MID-FUNNEL MEASUREMENT: IT’S WHERE THE ACTION IS

If you wanted to see that magic moment when your marketing changes hearts and minds, you’d have to be inside your customer’s head. Short of implanting a chip in their brain (which would be beyond creepy and, naturally, Elon Musk is apparently working on it), the next best thing is watching what people do, which predicts what they’ll do in the future. If you wait to survey them (attitudinal research) or to see if they buy from you (attribution), then the signal will be either too weak or too late to help you.

When the digital world collided with television, a game-changing opportunity emerged: the ability to measure actual consumer behavior in response to TV ads, in real-time. Nearly all TV viewers have a second screen in-hand while they watch, according to the Nielsen’s Total Audience Report.


And when the 21st century viewer sees something that interests them, they search for more information. The ability to see this search engagement within minutes of an ad airing enables marketers to connect the top and bottom of their marketing funnel, to literally see their customers’ journey in action. Through behavioral data like search, television can be as responsive and accountable as digital marketing, which is great news for TV advertisers and those who may have dismissed it in the past.

Traditional TV measurement pitfalls

Advertisers weren’t neglecting the middle of the funnel. They’ve always tried to use TV to build desire and demand, prompting the mid-funnel evaluation and consideration phases of the customer journey. They just didn’t have the ability to measure it in the past. It’s time to examine the pitfalls of relying solely on traditional top and bottom funnel measurement methods, such as attitudinal surveys and close-loop attribution, respectively.

Advertisers traditionally assume that surveys accurately assess consideration or intent. They don’t. People are notoriously bad at predicting their own future behavior (how about those election polls?), and surveys generalize a small sample of these poor predictions to the significantly larger TV audience, making the results even less actionable.

Conversely, advertisers who are laser-focused on bottom-of-funnel attribution – intent on trying to glean actionable information by looking backwards from a sale – miss out on enormous opportunities to engage consumers and improve the conversion rate while campaigns are still in-flight. Trying to match ad exposure to transaction data, with all the difficulties and costs of collecting and overcoming the privacy constraints of those data sets, leaves huge coverage gaps in the analytical conclusions. And by the time there’s any output, it’s too late – the campaign is over.

To focus on just the top or the bottom of the funnel means sacrificing the volume of results that can be achieved – and measured – in the mid-funnel with TV advertising.

The Scale Advantages of Mid-Funnel Data

Today’s customer journey is a more complex path and gathering more data throughout the journey is imperative to reaching accurate and actionable conclusions on how a campaign is performing.

When we study drop-off rates through the funnel, the volume of search data and site visitation data mid-funnel are orders of magnitude greater than the transaction data at the bottom. Each stage in the funnel is predictive of the next. But more data leads to better match rates and coverage and stronger statistical confidence and stability.

What makes this mid-funnel data transformational for TV ad measurement is its ubiquity across people, sectors and mediums. Given that about 90% of consumers use search throughout their path to purchase, according to pre-COVID research from GroupM and Forrester, it’s really the only unifying measure and the simplest and fastest way to see what’s happening through the funnel. As a result, real-time search-driven insights can be used to optimize in-flight campaigns for better engagement.

So, while middle funnel measurement does not reveal attitudinal information or provide a closed loop view of sales, it more than compensates for what those lack.

Looking ahead

The convergence of TV and digital technologies has created a near perfect scenario for advertisers: they can now maximize the critical evaluation and consideration phase of the customer journey using TV advertising because it can be measured reliably through search data.

In our fragmented, always-connected lives, the easiest prediction for the future is that search will remain marketing’s most powerful metric. Those who embrace the real-time, always optimizing mentality empowered by search measurement will win.

Source: Adexchanger.com

TV RATING WAS GROWING IN ALL CENTRAL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES LAST YEAR

Hungarians spend most of their time before the TV screen out of all viewers in Central Europe, the highest increase in the rating was seen in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Last year, TV rating achieved record values not only in the Czech Republic but also in the Central European region. The primary reason was the global Covid-19 pandemic and related government restrictions preventing the spread of the disease, which resulted in people spending more time at home. An increased rating was observed across all age groups of viewers, including the youngest ones aged   4-14.

From the neighbouring states, TV rating has grown most in Slovakia, 8% year on year. “The same year-on-year growth was reported in the Czech Republic but while the Slovak viewers increased the time spent in front of their TV screens to 4 hours and 17 minutes daily, the Czechs spent watching their favourite shows 3 hours and 41 minutes on average,” described Pavel Müller, Head of Research & Marketing in Atmedia.

Hungarians are the greatest TV fans in Central Europe. In 2019, which was not affected by the global pandemic, they spent watching TV 4 hours and 39 minutes on average, last year it was nearly 5 hours. On the contrary, the lowest growth in TV rating in Central Europe was reported in Poland with a 2% growth year on year. Nevertheless, people in Poland spent more time watching TV than their Czech neighbours with 4 hours and 23 minutes per day on average.

TV sledovanost v zemích střední Evropy v roce 2020, zdroj: ATO – Nielsen Admosphere, Nielsen Közönségmérés, Nielsen Audience Measurement, Kantar
Czech Republic; Slovakia; Poland; Hungary
Average time spent watching TV daily (hh:mm), All viewers

TV rating in Central European countries in 2020, source: ATO – Nielsen Admosphere, Nielsen Közönségmérés, Nielsen Audience Measurement, Kantar

TV rating increased both in the Czech Republic and the surrounding states across all viewer age groups last year. While in Poland the increase was the highest in the group of the oldest viewers aged 55+, in the Czech Republic the rating was growing the most among middle-aged viewers. TV rating of children aged 4-14 has also grown – in the Czech Republic by 6%. Slovakia reported an even higher increase of 12% and children watched TV on average 2 hours and 50 minutes per day. Approximately the same time was spent in front of TV screens by children in Hungary.

In addition to news programmes, to which much more time was dedicated by TV viewers last year to receive new information on the global pandemic and adopted government measures, thematic TV stations focusing on certain films, series or documentaries have become more popular. For example, rating of paid film and series channels such as AMC, AXN, CS Film, FilmBox, Film+ or JOJ Cinema have increased by 42% year on year. Similar development was experienced by documentary stations, such as CS History, CS Mystery, National Geographic or Spektrum.

Source: https://www.mediaguru.cz

ESTIMATE: AVOD REVENUE WILL DOUBLE BY 2025

Advertising revenue of ad-supported online video services is expected to double by 2025. But the market is dominated by linear TV.

Global investments directed at advertising in linear TV have generally decreased in the recent five years but linear TV still remains the key ad medium taking into consideration other video formats. Its share is 75%.

Out of this sum, online video applying an ad-supported model (AVOD), such as YouTube, accounts for about a quarter of global advertising spend. Online video results also include advertising investments intended for broadcaster video platforms (BVOD). This is shown by WARC data.

WARC researchers note that investments in linear TV were negatively impacted by the pandemic namely last year, before that they had declined on a five-year average from 2% to 6% depending on a global region.

Vývoj globálních reklamních investic v lineární TV a online videu (mld. USD), zdroj: WARC

Development of global advertising spend in linear TV and online video (USD billions), source: WARC

WARC also refers to the prediction of Digital TV Research, according to which the income of video online platforms (AVOD) will double to USD 53.5 billion by 2025. The key driver in this group is considered to be YouTube. However, an important role in watching YouTube is played by the TV screen. A quarter of all YouTube time spent is attributable to connected TV. The market size of paid video content (SVOD, such as Netflix) is expected to grow by about 60% by 2025.

Odhadovaný vývoj reklamních příjmů AVOD a SVOD do r. 2025 (mld. USD), zdroj: Digital TV Research

Estimated development of advertising revenue of AVOD and SVOD by 2025 (USD billions), source: Digital TV Research

The outbreak of the pandemic last year supported the growth of viewing content from streaming video services. The video time spent was growing in all global regions last year. In terms of devices, streaming content is watched predominantly on a “large screen”.  In fact, the TV screen (connected TV, smart TV) accounts for 75% of all streaming video content.

Sledování streamovaného videoobsahu v roce 2020 (%), zdroj: WARC

Source: https://www.mediaguru.cz

BRAND SAFETY FOR CTV COMES FIRST, PERFORMANCE IS A CLOSE SECOND

Although there is a continued lack of simple, industry-wide standards for cross-media and/or connected TV metrics — as well as some eye-opening fraud issues — CTV advertising dollars are estimated to rise to $11 billion.

What’s the most important issue? Perhaps a clue is where the actual dollars are flowing.

Many CTV dollars have benefited traditional TV players and their associated platforms — in large part due to advertisers belief that fraud issues will be minimal and/or adjusted should things go wrong.

Nearly four of five advertising executives say fraud is a major concern, according to recent poll by Advertiser Perceptions, repeating many results of other studies.

Results come from 284 advertising executives — 42% from marketers, 58% media agencies — in November and December 2020. An additional 300 advertisers were interviewed in January 2021 about the upfront.

Another key part of the study — which bolsters the fraud argument — comes from questions in ranking the “most valuable” media platform.

Easily the best results goes to linear TV. It gets a 32% nod from executives. After this comes social media, 16%; video sites, 15%; DSPs for online/mobile video 9%, and data-driven linear TV, 8%. Streaming CTV/OTT comes next at 6% — tied with addressable linear TV.

In particular, the study found big-brand TV advertisers more likely to go to a TV network-owned streaming platforms. Advertising executives want from streamers what they get from linear TV buys: Brand-safe areas, in environments where other premium-produced video content exists.

The downside: CTV/OTT platforms have far less ad inventory available than a typical linear TV network show — which is an attraction to prospective streaming TV consumer/users, as well as pleasing to brand advertisers looking for a less cluttered media environment.

Keep all this in mind as we head into the thick of the upfront selling season — as traditional TV networks make further linear TV and streaming TV selling adjustments.

Now let’s go back to measurement.

Nearly 60% say the more impressions that are bought outside of linear TV networks/platforms, the harder it is to know the precise reach, frequency and effectiveness of overall video advertising campaigns. Thus, marketers continue to seek a industry standard for cross-platforms measurement.

This would also be a big issue at the 2021 TV upfronts. But not the main issue. First, deal with the fraud.

Source: Mediapost.com

TRADITIONAL TV COMPANIES HAVE A LEG UP IN BIG-ADVERTISER CTV BUYS: STUDY

“Our primary impediment to [advertising] growth at this point is the behavior of TV buyers.”

That was Roku founder/CEO Anthony Wood, speaking yesterday during the company’s Q4 earnings call. Despite Roku’s high double-digit ad-revenue gains, Wood was expressing frustration and/or puzzlement over advertisers spending $65 billion on linear TV in 2020 — even as linear audiences continue to decline and age, while streaming platforms grow and now command half of TV viewing time among 18- to 34-year-olds.

Given Roku’s clout and the Roku Channel’s exceptional growth, the comment seems particularly telling of advertisers’ evolving relationship with OTT/CTV.

On one hand, there’s no question that investment is continuing to increase.

New advertiser research from Advertiser Perceptions finds that about a quarter of TV screen advertising budgets are earmarked for streaming this year. More than half (51%) of video advertisers, including most of the largest ones, said they plan to increase their video spend over the next 12 months, with the rest keeping it at about the same levels. And among those planning increases, 77% said that their video ad spending is growing at a faster pace than other media.

On the flip side, the surveys found 51% of advertisers saying they believe that linear TV is the most valuable video platform. (Chart at top of page.)

The next-closest were social media (16%) and video sites (15%), followed by DSPs for online/mobile video (9%) and data-driven linear TV (8%). CTV/OTT streaming — along with addressable linear TV — were designated most valuable by just 6%.

Bigger advertisers — those spending more than $25 million — were most likely to indicate a preference for linear TV over video sites or social media, although the reverse was true for those spending under $25 million.

Nearly half (45%) of advertisers said they could meet their reach goals without linear TV, but the overall trend points to increasing use of programmatic TV options and decreasing use of video sites and social media.

Further, when large advertisers buy CTV, they’re inclined to use options offered by traditional TV network companies, rather than independent digital video platforms.

“Big TV networks have really beefed up their CTV opportunities at the right time,” observed Justin Fromm, executive vice president/business Intelligence at Advertiser Perceptions.

When they do buy digital video platforms, advertisers of all sizes say they require assurances, including that ads appear on reputable sites (87%), be paired with brand-safe content (80%), and run within professionally produced video content (79%).

It will come as no shock to hear that these reservations about streaming are driven primarily by two big concerns: ad fraud and inadequate measurement systems.

Nearly four in five advertisers identified OTT fraud (especially in programmatic auctions) as a concern, and 58% said that the more impressions they buy outside of linear TV, the harder it is for them to know the exact reach, frequency and effectiveness of their overall video ad campaigns.

The networks’ CTV platforms are “becoming safe harbors for the largest advertisers as fraud climbs in the medium,” Fromm summed up. “While the major internet platforms will lead in volume of streaming ads, TV network safety is keeping them the gold standard in video as the platforms evolve.”

While that’s good news for the networks’ upfronts (most advertisers said they plan to spend 40% of their budgets for upfront and 60% for scatter, as they did in 2020), three-quarters of advertisers said they’ll be scrutinizing how media companies plan to expand reach while also innovating in cross-screen measurement and personalization.

In other words, despite considerable progress on the measurement front, and various efforts to reduce fraud (including companies dedicated to fraud prevention and growing use of the IAB Tech Lab’s authorized digital sellers list specifications for apps), advertisers are still looking for more accountability from CTV/OTT. Which is only prudent in any new environment.

Advertiser Perceptions surveyed 284 advertisers and agencies in November and December for its Video Advertising Convergence Report, and last month also surveyed 300 advertisers about their upfront buying.

Source: Mediapost.com

2021 WILL BE A ‘BUILD YEAR’ FOR ADDRESSABLE TV

Much has been made about the shift to streaming over the past year, particularly with the launch of Disney Plus, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, NBCU’s Peacock and a slew of other services.

But while streaming may be getting all the buzz, advertisers and agencies have also been leaning into addressable TV – the ability to deliver different ads to different households watching the same program – as marketers adjust their strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to eMarketer, addressable TV advertising spend is expected to increase 75% to $3.6 billion by 2022.

Addressable allows advertisers to shift from targeting programs to targeting audiences instead, with targeted ads dynamically inserted at the household level through cable, satellite and IP TV delivery systems and set-top boxes.

If two households are watching a Knicks game on TNT, for example, one may see an AT&T ad for a new 5G smartphone, while another with young children may see an ad for “Tom & Jerry” on HBO Max.

“Over the past two and a half years the scale of addressable has grown considerably,” said Nicolle Pangis, CEO of Ampersand, a data-driven TV advertising sales and technology company that accounts for more than 60% – or 42 million ­– of all US addressable households. “There’s a shift because when there’s an ability to target an audience in a more specific way, advertisers and agencies are interested in that. We think of it as a way to augment television buying.”

How addressable has changed

Matt Kramer, managing director of advanced TV at Omnicom Media Group, said that there has been demand for both linear addressable and addressable OTT after the pandemic impacted budgets across media channels last year.

“The idea here is to move beyond broad demography to go to more exact audiences,” he said.

While cable networks have been addressable for years, fragmentation in OTT has further driven demand for addressability, with the auto industry as well as pharma, finance, CPG and DTC brands leaning in.

And despite being more expensive than traditional linear TV, addressable advertising is considered more efficient due to the household level reach and frequency control.

“Advertisers want to reach a consistent audience wherever they are,” said Matt Van HoutenSVP of business and product development at WarnerMedia.

There has been a huge change in buyer behavior over the past few years. In the past, Van Houten said, one agency buyer had addressable included in their TV buys.

Now, programmatic buyers have entered the fray, while more traditional buyers that normally buy demos or GRPs are using addressable technology to expand their reach or better manage their frequency.

Tal Chalozin, CTO and co-founder of Innovid, said advertisers are leaning more into addressable OTT/CTV these days, saying that digital offers more options.

“Many marketers that were historically traditional television marketers found themselves last year saying … I need to be a better CTV advertiser,” he said.

Addressability in linear vs digital

Chalozin and others said that the level of granularity in addressable TV can vary.

Digital addressable, he said, allows advertisers to use data in real-time to serve TV ads. For example, a pharmaceutical company could buy a spot programmatically based on the pollen at a user’s location, and feature messaging that pointed to the pollen count being high within the commercial itself, he said.

“A QSR could understand what time of day their ad was being served and direct the ad server to highlight different food offers based on the weather conditions at that time of day,” he said. “Think Starbucks in the late afternoon – it’s cold? Mocha pick-me-up. Hot? Frappuccino Happy Hour.”

Kramer said that while data-driven linear addressable allows advertisers to deliver against an advanced audience, it has the least opportunity to optimize.

“At the end of the day you’re still buying a unit that’s going to air across that entire scheduled program and organically you’re still going to have out-of-target delivery even though you optimized,” he said.

Van Houten said that with linear addressable, there’s no real way to understand who is actually watching a TV screen at any point in time.

“We just know that screen is turned on,” he said. “Because of that, if you’re selling a TV and digital campaign, you’re typically going to roll that up at the household level and you’re going to want to make sure you have unduplicated reach. Then you can really start to do some significant analytics around what outcome did that household take off of that media.”

Van Houten said more marketers are playing in the VOD space first as they wait for distributors to unlock more advanced tools and technologies for linear addressable.

“And then they’re going to go very heavy into linear,” he said.  “I think 2021 will largely be a build year in addressable for programmers, for CTV and streaming players and the smart TV manufacturers, who are going to lean in and do a bunch of technology integrations and audience testing campaigns.”

Tactical evolution

Last year, Ampersand teamed with Verizon Media to give marketers a simple and consistent way to buy linear and addressable TV audiences through Ampersand’s AND Platform, an integration that significantly drove scale that had been lacking.

Pangis and others said that addressability is a tactic to extend linear reach because for all the talk about cord cutting, linear TV is still where the majority of ad spending is.

But she added it’s important to be able to target audiences across all television formats, both linear and addressable, including streaming.

“You really need single platforms to stitch together all of the buys for a brand in order to create consistency in audience targeting and consistency in measurement,” she said.

Kramer added that broad demography is not always a negative for brands.

“The reality is that being too targeted can be just as dangerous as being too broad,” he said. “One leads to reaching too many people, while the other means you don’t reach enough people to support your brand. For most brands, when you’re running an addressable campaign, it should usually be used as a hyper-local … on top of your national campaign.”

Source: Adexchanger.com

TV VIEWING WAS THE HIGHEST IN 24 YEARS OF MEASURING LAST YEAR

The average daily time spent watching TV increased to nearly four hours last year; time-shifted viewing doubled year on year.

In 2020, viewers spent record time watching TV in the 24-year history of people-meter measuring. In the 15+ group, TV was watched nearly four hours a day (3 hours and 59 minutes). From January to December, the average time spent watching TV increased by 43 minutes (to 4 hours and 47 minutes), which corresponds to the average length of the main news programme. The higher viewing trend was confirmed by this January when the average time spent watching TV was 4 hours and 45 minutes. Time-shifted viewing for the last twelve months has doubled. These results are disclosed by ATO, which orders TV measuring in the Czech market.

“The year-end has been traditionally related to a more varied choice of TV programmes and Christmas premieres. We can say that in many families, watching fairy tales and films together belongs to Christmas rituals. Nevertheless, last December saw a surprisingly high ATS of 4 hours and 47 minutes in the 15+ age group. ATS has increased year on year by nearly half an hour,” said Hana Havlíčková, ATO analyst.

Viewers were watching programmes throughout the day. In the prime time from 7 to 11 pm, people were watching TV daily for 1 hour and 51 minutes; from January to December 2020, ATS grew by 14 minutes.

Time-shifted viewing, i.e. watching programmes at times chosen by viewers according to their mood and free time, has also become popular. Time shifted viewing has doubled, representing more than 34 minutes (34:25 minutes) this January. “The growth in time-shifted viewing has been a trend in the recent period. The increase has certainly been affected by the greater amount of time spent at home due to the pandemic; however, we believe that viewers will make a habit that is going to be beneficial for TV in its future competition with the Internet,” says Vlasta Roškotová, executive director of ATO.

Regular TV data is delivered to the market by the Project of Cross-Platform Electronic Measurement organised by the Association of TV Organisations (ATO) in cooperation with Nielsen Admosphere.

 Source: https://www.mediaguru.cz

NOVA, SEZNAM AND PRIMA ARE THE STRONGEST CZECH MEDIA BY SALES

We have prepared a ranking of the top media on the Czech market in terms of turnover based on sales in 2019.

The Nova TV group, the Seznam.cz internet company and the Prima TV group were the three strongest media on the Czech market by sales in 2019.

In that year, Nova’s sales grew to CZK 5,45 billion, Seznam.cz achieved CZK 4.7 billion and FTV Prima CZK 3.28 billion. Two years ago, the sales of the Mafra media group, which had acquired Bauer Media a year earlier, also managed to exceed the level of three billion crowns. 

Comparing media firms by sales is complicated by the fact that the data on financial results for 2019 is not available for all firms. Where the results are not disclosed we have used data for the most recent year available (indicated in the table below).  

In some cases, consolidated results for the group are provided. Specifically, for Vltava Labe Media the results include printing companies. Its competitor, Czech News Center, has only reported results for the publishing company (without printing companies). Czech Print Center (CPC) merged with CNC last autumn. Data on CPC’s profit or loss is thus not available for 2019; the most recent information available is for 2017. 

The ranking does not include media companies for which no figures on sales are available for several previous years.

Media companies by sales in 2019 (CZK thousand)

RankingMedia companyOwner/groupSales in 2019 (CZK thousand)
1.TV NovaPPF5 453 979
2.SeznamSeznam.cz4 690 242
3.FTV PrimaGES Media3 275 130
4.MafraAgrofert3 027 877
5.Vltava Labe MediaPenta2 120 885
6.Czech News CenterCzech Media Invest2 039 186
7.BigBoard PrahaJOJ Media House (majority owner)1 265 343
8.EconomiaEconomia741 250
9.Barrandov Televizní studioEmpresa Media645 050*
10.O2 TVPPF636 902
11.Czech Print CenterCzech Media Invest635 513**
12.BorgisBorgis614 978
13.Burda International CZBurda Eastern Europe506 625
14.Empresa MediaEmpresa Media383 058**
15.EuroplakatJCDecaux273 602
16.JCDeacux městský mobiliářJCDecaux266 999
17.Rencar PrahaJCDecaux231 546
18.ActiveCzech Media Invest159 687
19.Stanice OAgrofert152 313
20.LondaAgrofert133 013
21.Evropa 2Czech Media Invest103 674
22.Our MediaSynot Invest Limited100 826
23.Frekvence 1Czech Media Invest95 042*
24.Media BohemiaMedia Bohemia  78 378
25.Radio United BroadcastingGES Media76 623

*sales in 2018, ** sales in 2017

Source: Cribis, financial statements and annual reports for 2019

If sales by owners or groups are aggregated, the owners with the highest sales (based on accumulated sales) include PPF, Seznam.cz, GES Media, Agrofert, Czech Media Invest and Penta.

We provide separate results for media agencies selling advertising space. The strongest position in this area is held by Media Club (owned by FTV Prima).

Media agencies by sales in 2019 (CZK thousand)

AgencyOwnerSales in 2019
Media ClubFTV Prima4 633 039
BigMediaBigBoard Praha1 100 499
Media Marketing ServicesMedia Bohemia973 405**
Radiohouse*Media Bohemia / Active847 342
Impression MediaMedia Bohemia101 857

* Throughout almost the whole 2019, Radiohouse was owned by members of the Media Bohemia and Active Radio groups; at the end of 2019, Media Bohemia became the sole owner and in 2020, the portfolio of represented radios changed

** The result is significantly higher year on year thanks to the acquisition of Radiohouse, Source: Cribis, financial statements and annual reports for 2019

Source: https://www.mediaguru.cz

DON’T STOP ME NOW: WHY BRANDS SHOULD CONTINUE TO MAKE THEIR VOICE HEARD

It’s as tough a time as its ever been for businesses, and marketing budgets are under extreme pressure, but going dark is a false economy, says Kantar’s Mark Inskip.

The latest IPA Bellwether report shows that businesses are cutting marketing budgets as a direct consequence of Covid-19 and Brexit. One could argue it’s an understandable response in the face of such economic turmoil and uncertainty. However, our evidence suggests that is the wrong step. It is the brands that double down on investment to stay relevant and front of mind with their customers who will be rewarded in the long term.

Stay visible, stay resilient

Slashing marketing budgets can seem like an easy solution for a business under pressure, but it is very often a misplaced economy. Brands that remain visible and accessible typically deliver superior shareholder returns, are more resilient and recover quickest in times of crisis. 

Our data shows that putting on the brakes even for a short period of time can be damaging, while brands that go dark for six months or more will severely limit their name recognition among consumers and their ability to drive future sales. To take an example, we tracked a brand which pulled out of advertising in one region after the last financial crisis but continued investing in another – the brand lost 2% of its market share within a year in the former while holding steady in the region where spend was maintained.* When activity was resumed in both regions, market share continued to lag in the first as the business struggled to regain the ground it had lost. It was not a case of simply turning the tap back on.

Despite the challenges brought by Covid-19, a regular rhythm and pulse of advertising activity is key. In fact, the current situation means there is an opportunity for those that don’t hold back to steal a march on their competitors. So how can marketing teams build their case internally? With business leaders keeping spend under close scrutiny, marketers will need a strong pitch to convince budget holders that any investment will be deployed smartly and will help deliver clear commercial returns. 

Be quick to adapt

Understanding consumer trends is essential, including what patterns of behaviour will stick long after the lockdowns ease and what new ones will emerge. This level of insight will help identify the right audiences and channels to target and which ones to overlook. It will reduce wastage and ensure that campaigns connect and resonate with key customer targets.

We have captured a growing call for brands to drive change and show how they are helping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. For example, one in three people would like to hear more about how businesses help their employees, the community and their customers. Not everyone wants a return to the norm post-Covid; a quarter of consumers say they want to see something different from advertising this year and beyond.**

But these are gradual shifts and sometimes changes in public attitudes can take longer than you would think. This can be particularly challenging to predict for campaigns which are often months in the making. For example, the percentage of the population who described themselves as optimists remained relatively static from 2016 all the way to June 2020, with no noticeable downturn immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic.*** Staying close to the empirical evidence is vital to understand how creative ideas are likely to land with public sentiment.

Pitch-perfect messaging is half the battle, but businesses must also assess how current social restrictions are changing how and where potential customers are likely to see advertising. Luxury cosmetics and beauty brand Clarins, for instance, recently announced it is sponsoring ITV’s drama Finding Alice in a bid to reach people while we are all spending more time at home, having identified an overlap between viewers and its target purchasers.

Change brings opportunity and a chance to innovate – but it has to be done in the right way. Understanding what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing during these difficult times will allow marketeers to pinpoint their campaigns and unlock spend. There is hope and recent figures from the Advertising Association and WARC paint a promising picture for a rise in UK ad spending in 2021. It will be the brands that follow through on this prediction, who maintain investment and spot trends early that will be best placed to capitalise when the financial recovery gets underway and the world starts to look a bit more normal.

*Kantar, “Marketing in uncertain times” 2011
**Kantar, Covid-19 Barometer
*** Kantar, GB TGI consumer data 2016 – 2020

Source: Warc.com